"Preserving the Past...Serving the Future"


The South Dakota Experience Part II: Proving Up

From the placing of the Verendrye Plate in 1743, to the final fight for the state capital in 1904, this exhibit tells the story of the native peoples, explorers, trappers, traders, settlers, missionaries, soldiers, and statesmen that played a part in the making of South Dakota.

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A few objects on display in Proving Up:

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This lead plate, found on February 16, 1913, at Ft. Pierre, documents the La Verendrye journey. The words, engraved before the journey, translate: "In the 26th year of the reign of Louis XV, the most illustrious Lord, the Lord Marquis of Beauharnois, 1741, Pierre Gaultier De La Verendrye placed this." Scratched on the back: "Placed by the Chevalier Verendrye [his brother] Louis [and] La Londette and A. Miotte. 30 March 1743."

In 1742 Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de Is Verendrye, sent his sons from the Hudson Bay area in Canada after the glory of a water route to China. On foot and horseback, Louis-Joseph and Francois trekked west, turning back when their Indian guides refused to go farther. After 14 months, the two French-Canadians did not find a route to the sea, but they were among the first newcomers to see the Dakota plains. Camping with Indians along the Missouri, they buried a lead plate near the Bad River, to honor their king.

[Gold scale from SDSHS collection]
Gold scale, used by the First National Bank of Yankton to weigh gold between 1876 and 1887.

In 1874 George A. Custer left Bismarck, Dakota Territory for the Black Hills with more than 1,000 soldiers, Sioux and Arikara scouts, a band, scientists, reporters, and a photographer. Officially, he was to site a fort for protecting Nebraska settlers. Unofficially, he was looking for gold. The U.S. said the trip did not violate the treaty of 1868, but the Sioux called his trail "that thieves road." On July 29, 1874, miners found gold in French Creek. Custer sent word to Fort Laramie, and in six months prospectors had sneaked into the Hills.





"Kitty," the Medora- Deadwood stagecoach, on exhibit in Proving Up.

The Marquis de Mores, French founder of Medora, North Dakota, set up the Medora & Black Hills Stage and Forwarding Company in 1884. His stages made the 215-mile trip to Deadwood in 36 hours. Passengers paid $21.50 for a ticket -10 cents per mile - and hated the rough route. A Pierre line won the mail contract to Deadwood, and after little more than a year the Medora line closed.

Oyate Tawicoh'an and Proving Up are on exhibit at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.

phone 605-773-3458, fax 605-773-6041

South Dakota State Historical Society, 900 Governors Dr., Pierre SD  57501-2217  phone 605-773-3458 fax 605-773-6041

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This page last updated August 22, 2007